Police are on the hunt for Dimitri Koa Storm, a man they say is a wanted fugitive in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, after he might have picked up a woman who was hitchhiking on Highway 1.
The woman was looking for a ride Monday night while standing on the side of Highway 1 near the border of San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties when along came Storm - a man police say stole a string of cars in April in at least five Bay Area counties.
Storm pulled over a stolen gray Mercedes that he was driving and told the homeless woman she could get in, Monterey County Sheriff's Cmdr. Lisa Nash told sister station KSBW. They traveled northbound together until Storm pulled over at a lookout point with a sweeping view near the Russian Ridge Hiking trail in south San Mateo County just before midnight.
At some point, the conversation turned toward the topic of weapons. Storm told the woman he had a knife and the woman became nervous.
She called 911 and Storm fled on foot up a hiking trail. Officers who arrived at the scene said the woman identified the driver through a photo they showed her.
But it was too late. Storm had vanished again. At 4 a.m. Tuesday, a grey 1991 Mercedes 350 parked on Page Mill Road in Palo Alto was reported stolen and investigators believe it was Storm's handiwork.
The 42-year-old man with blond hair and blue eyes is accused of stealing at least 10 cars this month during an April auto theft rampage.
Storm is suspected of stealing vehicles in Sonoma, Marin, Santa Cruz, and Monterey counties since early April. Authorities said he is known to steal license plates and put them on the stolen vehicles.
He allegedly stole a car in Windsor and threatened Sonoma County sheriff's deputies on April 5. He then fled in the vehicle to Woodacre in Marin County and was not found despite an hours-long search. He is suspected of stealing a vehicle in San Anselmo.
Santa Cruz County sheriff's officials suspect Storm burglarized vehicles in the Ben Lomond area and two homes in the Soquel Hills between March 31 and April 2.
The Monterey County Sheriff's Office believes Storm stole a Jeep Grand Cherokee from the Palo Colorado Canyon area and a Lexus from the Carmel area last week.
"He has a history of violence. He should be considered armed and dangerous," Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Deputy April Skalland told KSBW.
"I don't think he would harm anybody unless they were harming him," Storm's mother told KSBW's Phil Gomez. "He's in escape mode, he's not looking to hurt people. But I don't know what he's capable of."
Bay City News contributed to this report.